National Federation of the Blind 
Resolutions for 2016

Resolution 2017-01

Regarding the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act

WHEREAS, silent hybrid and electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular on roadways across America; and

WHEREAS, since 2003 the National Federation of the Blind has expressed deep concerns about the safety of the blind and other pedestrians due to the silencing of motor vehicles, particularly those hybrid and other electric vehicles that use batteries instead of combustion engines; and

WHEREAS, in 2009 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that these vehicles were twice as likely to be involved in a pedestrian collision as the internal combustion engine counterparts; and,

WHEREAS, the threat is increased for blind Americans, who rely on the sound made by motor vehicles to determine when it is safe to cross streets and driveways, traverse parking lots, and otherwise be aware of moving vehicles that are present; and

WHEREAS, on January 4, 2011, in recognition of the dangers posed by silent hybrid and electric vehicles, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, requiring these vehicles to emit an alert sound at low speeds, was signed into law; and

WHEREAS, the initially scheduled publication date for the final regulations of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act was January 4, 2014, but the regulations were not published in the Federal Register until December 14, 2016, with an effective date of February 13, 2017; and

WHEREAS, since that publication in the Federal Register, the effective date has been further delayed no less than four times, most recently to September 5, 2017: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization condemn and deplore the Department of Transportation for three and a half years of delays, extensions, and postponements to the final regulation for the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that the current administration cease all delays of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act and put the final regulations into effect immediately.

 

Resolution 2017-02

Regarding the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 as Amended and Air Carrier Discrimination

WHEREAS, in 1986 Congress passed the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Act, clarifying that “no air carrier may discriminate against any otherwise qualified handicapped individual, by reason of such handicap, in the provision of air transportation”; and

WHEREAS, in enacting the ACAA, Congress did not expressly authorize a private right to sue an air carrier that engages in discriminatory acts, but only authorized the creation of an enforcement mechanism requiring each air carrier to “implement a complaint resolution mechanism, including designating one or more complaints resolution official(s) to be available at each airport which the carrier serves;” and

WHEREAS, in creating the administrative enforcement mechanism, Congress delegated authority to the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to investigate all complaints alleging violations of the ACAA; and

WHEREAS, although an aggrieved person may file a petition for review of a DOT determination to a United States Court of Appeals, these courts must give substantial deference to DOT's interpretation of its regulations unless the aggrieved person can demonstrate that the decision was plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation; and

WHEREAS, while the DOT has expertise in air carriers and air travel, it does not have sufficient expertise in disability discrimination or civil rights issues, nor do its employees receive sufficient training to be considered experts on disability discrimination or civil rights issues; and

WHEREAS, under the ACAA, Congress authorized the Department of Justice, a federal agency with substantial expertise and training in the protection of disability and civil rights, to bring civil actions to enforce the ACAA only upon request of the Secretary of Transportation; and

WHEREAS, the current ACAA enforcement scheme has led to a lack of accountability among airlines and their personnel, resulting in shocking acts of discrimination against the blind and other passengers with disabilities, including the forcible or threatened removal of these passengers from aircraft merely because the passengers asserted their settled rights under the ACAA; and

WHEREAS, in contrast to the current process, a private right of action would allow an aggrieved individual to seek redress in the courts with the assistance of counsel of his or her choosing, allowing for an unbiased and independent review of the alleged discriminatory acts and the law pertaining to them; and

WHEREAS, an award of reasonable attorney’s fees under the ACAA would motivate attorneys to assist aggrieved air travelers who otherwise could not afford to vindicate their rights: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization demand that the United States Congress amend the Air Carrier Access Act to include a private right of action for violations of the law that permits compensatory and injunctive relief, as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees, in order to deter future acts of discrimination.

 

Resolution 2017-03

Regarding the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act

WHEREAS, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), originally passed by the United States Congress in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, supports special education and related service programming for blind and other students with disabilities, by guaranteeing students with disabilities a “free appropriate public education” in the “least restrictive environment”; and

WHEREAS, for students who are identified as having “visual impairments including blindness,” (20 U.S.C § 1414(d)(3)(B)(iii)) commonly referred to as the “Braille presumption,” current law guarantees them instruction in “Braille and the use of Braille” unless, after an evaluation of the child’s “reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the child’s future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille),” the IEP (individualized education program) team determines that instruction in “Braille or the use of Braille” is inappropriate for the student; and

WHEREAS, according to the American Printing House for the Blind’s 2015 Annual Report, 61,739 students were identified as having “visual impairments including blindness” in the United States, and of this number only 5,333 students, or 8.6 percent of all students identified, were identified as having Braille as their primary reading medium; and

WHEREAS, Title II of the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, which seeks to amend substantially the IDEA, will, as currently written, further exacerbate the Braille literacy crisis in the United States by shifting the current narrow and specific, yet often unenforced, mandate of the “Braille presumption” to include a host of areas that fall outside Congress’s original intent in drafting this provision, reducing Braille as the central focus of this provision; and

WHEREAS, Title II of the Cogswell-Macy Act also introduces the term, “visual disabilities,” to describe students with “visual impairments including blindness,” the law's current terminology, which will further dilute the terminology already being used in the field of blindness--the term “visual disabilities” is an undefined term that is otherwise not commonly used by most professionals in the field of blindness, nor is it used consistently throughout the proposed act; and

WHEREAS, Title II, Subtitle B of the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act seeks to establish the creation of an “Anne Sullivan Macy Center on Visual Disability and Educational Excellence,” funded by the United States Department of Education and composed of a consortium of nonprofit, academic, and national consumer entities in the field of blindness to provide services to blind students, as well as blindness professionals, without sufficient requisites for the entities described to ensure that the services will meet the highest academic, professional, and empirical standards for students and professionals alike: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon Representative Matt Cartwright to withdraw the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act (H.R. 1120) from consideration in the 115th Congress and to work diligently with the National Federation of the Blind to strengthen the “Braille presumption,” and the IDEA as a whole, to better meet the needs of blind students, blindness professionals, and parents of blind children; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the United States Department of Education vigorously to enforce the IDEA, specifically the “Braille presumption,” to ensure that blind students are given access to the greatest key to literacy so that they may live the lives they want.

 

Resolution 2017-04

Regarding the Protection of the Medicaid System from Proposed Cuts and Ensuring Economic Security and Stability for Blind Americans

WHEREAS, pursuant to the Social Security Amendments Act of 1965, the Medicaid Social Insurance program has provided critical economic and family security for blind Americans for over fifty years, and today, there are an estimated 1.4 million blind people in the United States who rely on Medicaid for health insurance, economic stability, and family security; and

WHEREAS, blind people comprise an estimated 17 percent of disabled people currently using the Medicaid program, and thus Medicaid has provided millions of blind Americans since 1965 with peace of mind in the knowledge that they will have access to vital healthcare services without incurring prohibitive expenses and decimating household budgets; and

WHEREAS, the United States House of Representatives recently passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which contains $839 billion in proposed cuts to Medicaid, and the current administration recently released a budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 that contains within it an additional $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid, for a total of $1.4 trillion in cuts to the program; and

WHEREAS, if the cuts to Medicaid set forth in the American Health Care Act were to be implemented, an estimated one hundred twenty-four thousand blind Americans would lose their health insurance, and such loss of health insurance represents a catastrophic strain on the resources and stability of households that rely on Medicaid for insurance: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization condemn and deplore any effort to cut funding for the Medicaid insurance program; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon both houses of the United States Congress to oppose cuts to Medicaid and to incorporate the concerns of blind Americans in the future when considering any similar reforms.

 

Resolution 2017-05

Regarding Ziosk Accessibility

WHEREAS, since 2013 many restaurants, including but not limited to, On the Border, Outback Steakhouse, Chili’s, T.G.I. Fridays, and Olive Garden  have contracted with Tabletop Media LLC to install Ziosk, a tablet-based tabletop system in which food can be ordered and bills can be paid; and

WHEREAS, the purpose of Ziosk is to minimize the time that is needed for wait staff to take food orders and for restaurant patrons to pay their bills; and

WHEREAS, Ziosk uses an operating system that is currently inaccessible to blind users; and

WHEREAS, restaurants that employ inaccessible technology and services for blind patrons not only violate Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act but also display a callous attitude toward customer service to all patrons: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization demand that Tabletop Media LLC make the Ziosk system accessible to blind patrons; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge all restaurants to cease using Ziosk until it is made accessible to blind patrons to ensure that they will have the same dining experiences as the general public; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon all blind Americans to publicize the inaccessibility of restaurants where Ziosk is used through social media and by other means. 

 

Resolution 2017-06

Regarding the Preservation and Protection of the Rights of People with Disabilities Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

WHEREAS, beginning in the latter half of the twentieth century, Congress worked to codify the rights of people with disabilities by ensuring equal access to education, employment, and community-based opportunities; and

WHEREAS, the ultimate expression of this effort was the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, a comprehensive civil rights law that revolutionized the inclusion and integration of people with disabilities in the United States in all aspects of American life by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of a disability; and

WHEREAS, over the last twenty-six years of the ADA’s existence, public and private entities have had access to substantial resources to assist them in complying with the law, but despite this Americans with disabilities still confront persistent physical and, increasingly, digital access barriers; and

WHEREAS, to assist Americans with disabilities in asserting our rights under the ADA, Congress included a private right of action under this law, which has assisted Americans with disabilities to secure landmark victories that have opened doors in employment, education, commerce, and other arenas; and

WHEREAS, this private right of action is now being jeopardized by a small group of attorneys and plaintiffs who are abusing this provision of the law, emboldening restaurant, commerce, and lodging special interest associations to attack this provision by backing federal legislation that will hinder the right of Americans with disabilities to file suit against businesses that are violating the ADA; and

WHEREAS, in the first session of the 115th Congress, Representative Ted Poe from Texas introduced H.R. 620, the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017,” which seeks to amend the ADA to require Americans with disabilities first to send a letter to the business in question informing it of the specific title and section of the ADA it is violating; next to give the business sixty days upon receipt of the letter to acknowledge it, and subsequently another one hundred twenty days to “remedy” the violation; after which, should the business not comply, only then can a person with a disability file suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act; and

WHEREAS, this approach wrongly shifts the burden of compliance with the ADA from the business sector to the people the law is intended to benefit, while creating a greater incentive for businesses engaging in new construction or renovation to ignore the requirements of the ADA since they would have to comply with the law only if and when a specific person with a disability attempts to access their facility or service: Now,  therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization condemn and deplore the introduction of H.R. 620, the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017,” by Representative Ted Poe; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Representative Poe to withdraw this bill from consideration and instead to encourage the business interests who are pushing this legislative initiative to meet with and listen to the concerns of people with disabilities and to identify any common ground that may exist, while simultaneously eliminating the adverse consequences the bill, as currently drafted, has on the majority of disabled Americans who are not abusing the law.

 

Resolution 2017-07

Regarding Access to Emergency Alert Broadcasts for Deaf-blind Individuals

WHEREAS, emergency alert broadcasts are public announcements that provide immediate and critical information about weather, security or national crisis, or local events; and

WHEREAS, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as well as state and local authorities, have implemented routine testing on the emergency broadcast system on television and radio stations; and

WHEREAS, critical information about emergencies is often conveyed visually or audibly on television and radio, formats that are inaccessible to deaf-blind people; and

WHEREAS, like everyone else, deaf-blind individuals need information not only about the type of emergency, but also about how to stay informed in the likelihood of being displaced, as well as procedures for how to deal with the aftermath; and

WHEREAS, deaf-blind people have the capability to use adaptive technologies to independently access this time-sensitive and important information but are currently forced to depend on family members, friends, or coworkers to relay that information because it is not directly conveyed to them in accessible formats; and

WHEREAS, current FCC regulations (47 C.F.R. 79.2) require that emergency broadcast systems be provided in an accessible format for blind and deaf persons, but not specifically for deaf-blind persons; and

WHEREAS, in 2015 the FCC created the Disability Advisory Committee, which brings together representatives from industry and advocacy organizations to address issues such as accessibility in communications for all disabled persons, but the Committee has not yet issued recommendations concerning access to emergency alerts and broadcasts for the deaf-blind; and

WHEREAS, the FCC provides eligible deaf-blind people with adaptive technology through the National Deaf-blind Equipment Distribution Program, also known as the ICanConnect program, which allows deaf-blind people to receive text messages through smart phones, Braille displays, tablets, etc.: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization strongly urge the FCC to immediately promulgate accessibility standards for the communication of emergency information to deaf-blind persons in a timely and effective manner so that these individuals have the necessary information needed to make appropriate decisions during a crisis and in the aftermath.

 

Resolution 2017-08

Regarding the Necessity of Conformance to Well Recognized Standards to Ensure Widespread Accessibility

WHEREAS, the internet is necessary to access education, commerce, recreation, and communication for blind and sighted people alike; and

WHEREAS, blind users employ a variety of devices, browsers, and screen-access packages to access the internet; and

WHEREAS, the wide interoperability of websites, browsers, operating systems, and assistive technologies is made possible only through robust adherence to widely recognized standards and guidelines; and

WHEREAS, the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 level AA (WCAG 2.0 AA) have become the internationally recognized standard for ensuring the accessibility of web technologies; and

WHEREAS, the United States Section 508 Refresh directly references WCAG 2.0 AA as its accessibility guideline for all relevant technologies; and

WHEREAS, other major standards including the Accessible Rich Internet Application (ARIA) Authoring Practices, Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines, and User Agent Accessibility Guidelines further ensure that blind users can trust that their preferred tools will allow them to use accessible content; and

WHEREAS, these W3C standards are the product of collaboration among many stakeholders, including users, consumer organizations, government, and business; and,

WHEREAS, the adoption of these standards by all stakeholders increases the ability of users to choose the tools that best meet their needs: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization commend all web developers, browser manufacturers, access technology producers, and others who have worked to improve the quality of web accessibility through adherence to the guidelines outlined by the W3C; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Federation of the Blind call upon web-accessibility testing organizations, browser and access-technology manufacturers, and web developers to continue to make conformance to these standards a priority in order to further interoperability across devices and services for all users.

 

Resolution 2017-09

Regarding Increasing the Availability of Access Technology for Blind Americans

WHEREAS, blind consumers use access technology tools such as screen readers, refreshable Braille displays, and embossers to participate in school, succeed in careers, and live independently; and

WHEREAS, public and private entities responsible for providing these tools struggle to meet the current demand of blind consumers, which results in prolonged delays in the delivery of necessary technology to the blind; and

WHEREAS, access technology is highly specialized technology designed and manufactured for a relatively small population, leading to the high cost of these tools; and

WHEREAS, approximately 72 percent of blind Americans are unemployed or underemployed and do not have the financial resources needed to purchase these tools; and

WHEREAS, on March 27, 2017, Senators Boozman and Cardin introduced S. 732, and Representatives Young and Roybal-Allard introduced H.R. 1734, the Access Technology Affordability Act; and

WHEREAS, this legislation provides a simple solution that empowers blind consumers to procure these items for themselves by creating a refundable tax credit in the amount of $2,500 to be used over a three-year period: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization commend Senators Boozman and Cardin and Representatives Young and Roybal-Allard for introducing the Access Technology Affordability Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge the United States Congress to enact the Access Technology Affordability Act immediately.

 

Resolution 2017-10

Regarding the Application of the Americans with Disabilities Act to the World Wide Web

WHEREAS, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) revolutionized the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of American life, opening doors to employment, education, commerce, transportation, and the like, doors previously thought to be out of reach for Americans with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, since the passage of this landmark civil rights legislation, the World Wide Web has blossomed as the main vehicle by which personal, commercial, and professional transactions occur, where increasingly, academic tasks are performed, and where ideas, opinions, and information are conveyed through a broad range of internet-based outlets; and

WHEREAS, the inception and passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act preceded the mainstream use of the World Wide Web; and

WHEREAS, Congress made clear when enacting the ADA that it addressed more than physical access and was supposed to incorporate access to new technology; and

WHEREAS, in 2010 in an attempt to bring definitive clarity to this matter, the United States Department of Justice began the process of drafting web access regulations under titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a process that it was not able successfully to complete; and

WHEREAS, both the United States Department of Justice and the United States Department of Education continue to have enforcement responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, regardless of the existence of web access regulations: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization urge that the United States Department of Justice and the United States Department of Education vigorously enforce titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act to protect and preserve the rights of blind and other Americans with disabilities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge the current administration to expand access for blind Americans by demanding that the United States Department of Justice immediately finalize and release web access regulations under titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act that are consistent with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA, enabling blind Americans to fully live the lives we want.

 

Resolution 2017-11

Regarding Inaccessible Research and Reference Management Software

WHEREAS, students and practitioners in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, (STEM) and Social Sciences fields are frequently expected to use software packages to design surveys and experiments, analyze quantitative and qualitative data, and create and share bibliographies and citations; and

WHEREAS, an astounding number of software packages, such as SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences), SAS (Statistical Analysis System), Minitab, and Mplus used to analyze quantitative data; NVivo, ATLAS.ti, MAXQDA, and Dedoose used to analyze qualitative data; and Endnote and Mendeley, used to manage references, are inaccessible to the blind; and

WHEREAS, some software manufacturers generate Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT) that claim accessibility, but these VPATs are often inaccurate because the developers did not include in-depth testing by screen reader users who know how the software package is supposed to operate; and

WHEREAS, blind people have the desire and the capacity to study and work in these fields but face discrimination due to inaccessible software; and

WHEREAS, blind students cannot compete academically with their sighted peers when they cannot complete courses on time or must withdraw completely from courses because the alternatives to inaccessible software are inefficient and the universities fail to provide adequate technical support; and

WHEREAS, blind people face unemployment and under-employment in these fields, even when they have successfully completed their degrees, because their productivity is compromised by inaccessible software; Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization insist that developers of research and reference management software packages immediately take steps to make their products fully accessible; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge software developers to engage knowledgeable screen reader users to provide in depth testing so that their VPATs will be accurate; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge universities to discontinue the purchase or the deployment of inaccessible software.

 

Resolution 2017-12

Regarding the Distribution of Refreshable Braille Displays to Patrons of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

WHEREAS, there are currently 119,487 libraries of all types operating in the United States, and of these only the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) is specifically tasked with distributing Braille books across the nation; and

WHEREAS, the distribution of these Braille books by the NLS and a network of cooperating regional libraries primarily occurs through the mailing of hard-copy offerings, but new, low-cost devices (known as refreshable Braille displays) can produce electronic Braille, saving money, saving paper, and using a small electronic device instead of multiple and large volumes for just one book; and

WHEREAS, in April of 2016 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recognized the potential that refreshable Braille displays offer to increase the availability of Braille materials to NLS patrons, while simultaneously saving the NLS approximately ten million dollars annually; and

WHEREAS, in July of 2016 Congress affirmed the GAO’s findings by amending the Pratt-Smoot Act, (2 U.S.C § 135a), to allow the NLS to “provide books published either in raised characters, on sound-reproduction recordings, or in any other form,” thereby opening the door for the NLS to distribute refreshable Braille displays: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon the United States Congress to authorize a one-time appropriation of five million dollars to the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which will enable the NLS, through the bidding process, to purchase a minimum of ten thousand low-cost refreshable Braille displays, jumpstarting the distribution of these devices to the 11 percent of NLS patrons who are already accessing the library’s electronic Braille files and increasing access to refreshable Braille.

 

Resolution 2017-14

Regarding Federal Funding for Public Transportation

WHEREAS, if blind persons are to achieve full integration into all aspects of community life, we must have access to efficient reliable public transportation; and

WHEREAS, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) uses federal funds for a wide range of its operating and capital activities to provide a national system of passenger rail service, including regional service through several corridors and service to smaller communities that have no other passenger transportation; and

WHEREAS, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provides financial and technical assistance to local public transit systems, including fixed route systems (buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, trolleys, and ferries) as well as on-demand systems; and

WHEREAS, the president’s current budget proposal includes sweeping cuts in federal subsidies for transportation services, reducing Amtrak’s budget by $630 million and reducing the FTA’s budget by 13 percent; and

WHEREAS, these budget cuts would have a detrimental impact on the ability of the blind as well as other people with disabilities to travel to school, work, doctor’s appointments, community meetings, civic events, worship services, and recreational activities: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization strongly urge the Administration and Congress to recognize that mass transit and rail transportation are integral parts of this nation’s infrastructure and should be supported by increases in federal funding.

 

Resolution 2017-15

 

Regarding the Accessibility of Major Home Appliances

WHEREAS, many major home appliances are becoming increasingly smart and feature-packed; and

WHEREAS, these features often are accessed by increasingly complex interfaces; and

WHEREAS, these interfaces are commonly menu-driven and/or touchscreen-based, preventing blind consumers from using traditional marking methods to make appliances operable; and

WHEREAS, manufacturers have not included on-device methods for increasing accessibility; and

WHEREAS, app-connected devices can provide some benefit, but do not provide equal access: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon major appliance manufacturers to develop and promote universally accessible interfaces for their appliances; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the United States Congress to pass legislation requiring accessibility standards for home appliances.

 

Resolution 2017-16

Regarding the Commercialization of Interstate Rest Areas

WHEREAS, Congress, in 1936, enacted the Randolph-Sheppard Act to “provide blind persons with remunerative employment,” to “enlarge their economic opportunities, and encourage their self-support through the operation of vending facilities in federal buildings,” and subsequent amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act have further clarified Congress’s intent and have continued to expand economic opportunities for blind entrepreneurs; and

WHEREAS, in 1982 Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly of Connecticut recognized the opportunity that existed for blind entrepreneurs at interstate rest areas and subsequently introduced the “Kennelly Amendment” to the Surface Transportation Act, which authorized state licensing agencies designated to administer the Randolph-Sheppard Program the priority to operate vending machines at interstate rest areas; and

WHEREAS, because of the passage of the “Kennelly Amendment,” today, 20 percent of blind entrepreneurs who participate in the Randolph-Sheppard Program operate vending machines at interstate rest areas nation-wide; and

WHEREAS, the livelihood of these approximately four hundred blind entrepreneurs is now being jeopardized by Congressional efforts which seek to commercialize these interstate rest areas, most recently with the introduction of H.R. 1990 in the 115th Congress by Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana, which seeks to amend Title 23, United States Code, to allow food concessions at state-owned interstate rest areas; and

WHEREAS, the result of commercialization of interstate rest areas would be directly felt by blind entrepreneurs, who would then be forced to compete with well-established and well-recognized franchises, essentially putting these blind entrepreneurs out of work almost overnight: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization urge that Congressman Jim Banks withdraw H.R. 1990 from consideration in the 115th Congress until the concerns of the blind entrepreneurs who earn their living from vending machines in our nation’s interstate rest areas are adequately addressed.

 

Resolution 2017-17

Regarding the Discriminatory Treatment of Blind Passengers by Airlines

WHEREAS, air travel is the fastest and most convenient method of long-distance travel; and

WHEREAS, blind passengers, like our sighted peers, use air travel for business, pleasure, visiting loved ones, and for many other purposes; and

WHEREAS, the Air Carrier Access Act, passed in 1986, provides for the fair and nondiscriminatory treatment of blind and other disabled passengers by airlines; and

WHEREAS, airline staff, both in the airport and on the aircraft, regularly treat blind passengers poorly by asking for identification for service animals, demanding that passengers sit in wheelchairs or in certain locations on the aircraft, and taking long white canes from passengers; and
WHEREAS, blind travelers’ service animals increasingly experience aggression from other passengers’ pets or emotional support animals; and

WHEREAS, the law provides clear guidance for all issues mentioned above and the remedies for any issue that might arise during air travel, but the behavior of airline personnel demonstrates that they have little training or knowledge of  what the law says with regard to these issues; Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization urge all airlines to develop continuous and effective personnel training programs in consultation with the National Federation of the Blind and the National Association of Guide Dog Users so that the discriminatory treatment of blind passengers will come to an end.

 

Resolution 2017-18

Regarding the Accessibility of the Drupal Content Management System

WHEREAS, Drupal, an open source content management system used to power thousands of digital experiences across the web, has the potential to impact the daily experience of many blind computer users; and

WHEREAS, the Drupal accessibility statement declares, “As an inclusive community, we are committed to making sure that Drupal is an accessible tool for building websites that can also be accessed by people with disabilities”; and

WHEREAS, the accessibility statement further indicates Drupal has committed to ensuring all features of Drupal Core conform with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 and the W3C Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) version 2.0; and

WHEREAS, the Drupal Accessibility Team and other Drupal community members have provided excellent documentation for module and theme developers to make their third-party components accessible as well as a specific tag in the module and theme search systems allowing these developers to indicate that their components are accessible; and

WHEREAS, the commitment to accessibility was firmly demonstrated when at its launch, Drupal 8 (the most recent major version of the platform) provided an out-of-the-box accessible experience; and

WHEREAS, the availability of accessible content management platforms not only benefits end users, but additionally enables blind developers, authors, and editors greater access to a tool used in a myriad of organizations, decreasing the likelihood of barriers in certain employment opportunities; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind and a number of its affiliates have chosen to power their own websites with Drupal: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization commend the Drupal Association, the Drupal Core maintainers, the Drupal Accessibility Team, and the Drupal community as a whole for their demonstrated commitment to producing a content management system that is accessible to visitors, content authors, and administrators; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend the above listed groups for committing to an accessible product early in the development of Drupal 8, but also for making accessibility improvements in existing code for Drupal 7; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call on module and theme developers building components for Drupal to follow the guidance provided by the Drupal Accessibility Team to ensure their add-ons will be as accessible as Drupal Core.

 

Resolution 2017-19

Regarding Equal Access for Computer-Adaptive Tests

WHEREAS, computer-adaptive testing has become increasingly integrated into high-stakes tests at the K-12, higher education, and professional licensure level; and

WHEREAS, computer adaptive tests adjust dynamically to a tester's ability level by providing a series of questions dependent upon whether the tester answered previous questions correctly; and

WHEREAS, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits testing entities from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and stipulates that tests must be delivered in a manner that measures an individual’s mastery of the subject matter, as opposed to reflecting his or her disability; and

WHEREAS, technology exists to provide blind test takers with full and equal access to computer-adaptive tests using screen-access software paired with pre-embossed tactile graphics, Braille supplements, and/or Braille displays; and

WHEREAS, rendering a computer-adaptive test in an accessible format does not constitute a fundamental alteration of the test: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization hereby condemn and deplore testing entities that have told blind test takers that computer-adaptive tests cannot be made accessible with screen access software and that have offered testers a human reader and scribe as their only accommodation option; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that testing entities design computer-adaptive tests in accordance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AA so that these tests are fully and independently accessible to the blind.

 

Resolution 2017-20

Regarding the Preservation of Funding for the Library Services and Technology Act Through the Institute of Museum and Library Services

WHEREAS, the 119,487 libraries in the United States serve as vital centers of community engagement, literacy, learning, and access for Americans in every locality across the country; and

WHEREAS, libraries in rural areas are often the only source of free internet access, thereby providing critical avenues for residents to seek out employment opportunities and engage with the broader world; and

WHEREAS, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) provides funding to libraries in regions and states specifically dedicated to serving the blind and other print-disabled people; and

WHEREAS, the Library Services and Technology Act is the legislative vehicle through which the IMLS receives that funding, which is the primary source of funding for libraries for the blind in some states, and partially contributes to the funding of other state libraries for the blind: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization strongly support the provision of full funding in the amount of $186.6 million for the Library Services and Technology Act as a component of the broader fiscal year 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Senator Roy Blunt and Senator Patty Murray, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, as well as Representative Tom Cole and Representative Rosa DeLauro, Chair and Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, to support the full funding amount of $186.6 million contained in the Library Services and Technology Act.

 

Resolution 2017-22

Regarding SharePoint

WHEREAS, SharePoint, a Microsoft product, unites content management, document management, and intranet management, as well as offering business intelligence and business solutions functionality; and

WHEREAS, SharePoint has been widely deployed among federal government agencies enterprise-wide, and the federal government is one of Microsoft’s largest clients; and

WHEREAS, federal agencies are legally prohibited from procuring, deploying, and using electronic information technology (EIT) that does not comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act; and

WHEREAS, Microsoft claims that SharePoint is Section 508 compliant, which is a basic accessibility standard applicable to the federal government; and

WHEREAS, the primary determinant by the federal government of whether a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product is Section 508 compliant is whether or not the product seller characterizes its product as adhering to Section 508; and

WHEREAS, many SharePoint features are in fact not 508 compliant or accessible, including some navigation, collaboration, dynamic, and developer features, such as checking documents in and out, editing documents, collaborating on documents, creating and managing document approval routes, adding tables and charts, creating SharePoint pages, wikis, and resources, generating dynamic content, and aspects related to back-end development of SharePoint environments, which result in individuals who are blind and otherwise use access technology being unable fully or independently to use SharePoint; and

WHEREAS, Microsoft has publicly stated to members of this Organization that it is not interested in improving accessibility and 508 compliance to server-based and previously released versions of SharePoint and intends only to focus on improving accessibility for cloud-based versions of SharePoint; and

WHEREAS, federal government agencies are either prohibited from or very slow in being able to change from server-based to cloud-based SharePoint platforms because of national and cyber security reasons, infrastructure limitations, and funding constraints; and

WHEREAS, the cost to apply a third-party accessibility module to SharePoint is prohibitive and may cost an agency upwards of $40,000 for each individual user; and

WHEREAS, third-party accessibility modules must be modified each time an entity upgrades to a new version of SharePoint or makes a developer change, resulting in additional development of the third-party module, gaps between the time when SharePoint is upgraded and when the upgrade to the third-party module is deployed, rendering the third-party module inoperable and SharePoint unusable by the blind during that period and adding significant additional expenses; and

WHEREAS, the wide-spread deployment of inaccessible versions of SharePoint among federal agencies has caused blind federal employees who previously performed work tasks independently prior to SharePoint to lose the ability to do so; Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization strongly urge that Microsoft Corporation make SharePoint fully accessible in all versions, including future releases and previously released versions since SharePoint 2010 of the server-based platform to its blind users; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the federal government to demand the same of Microsoft; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that federal agencies stop procuring and deploying SharePoint until Microsoft incorporates accessibility solutions in all versions, including future releases and previously released versions since SharePoint 2010 of the server-based platform, thus ensuring that the blind and other employees using access technology have equal access to SharePoint’s business functionality features as do other employees.

 

Regarding the Availability of Described Video Content

WHEREAS, video description can provide substantially improved access for blind viewers of many types of video content, including those used for educational, vocational, and recreational purposes; and

WHEREAS, some content cannot be understood non-visually without additional description or other resources; and

WHEREAS, the majority of major American theatrical releases now offer a description track; and,

WHEREAS, the Federal Communications Commission has called for an increase in the availability of video description for over-the-air broadcasts; and

WHEREAS, many DVD and Blu-Ray releases contain description tracks; and

WHEREAS, blind users certainly appreciate and use these services, but like many others increasingly use digital and streaming services for viewing video content; and

WHEREAS, several streaming, digital rental, and content stores offer some described content, but the selection may change based on provider, device employed, content licensing, and other factors; and

WHEREAS, many of these providers offer unique content, available through only one platform: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that we commend those organizations which have worked to ensure access to described content using their digital distribution channels, including Apple’s iTunes Store, Amazon, and Netflix; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call on providers that have not offered described videos to work toward providing this functionality to all blind consumers; and

BE IT FURTER RESOLVED that we ask all such providers to continue to work with blind users to ensure that video description is widespread, easy to employ, and effective, and that these entities provide content creators with an easy method to include description, including on platforms which focus on user-generated content, such as YouTube.

 

Resolution 2017-24

Regarding Fees Incurred for Locating Uber Drivers

WHEREAS, rideshare services have increased and simplified independent mobility for blind people; and

WHEREAS, blind people regularly use the Uber app and service as a means of transportation; and

WHEREAS, a July 5, 2017 email from Uber entitled "New changes for better pickups" outlines changes to Uber's fee structure including a "wait time fee" which is incurred if the ride has not started after two minutes of the driver's arrival as indicated by the Uber app; and

WHEREAS, the Uber app and associated services do not currently include an accessible means for one to determine a driver's current location; and

WHEREAS, these and other limitations can result in it taking longer than two minutes for a rider to find the vehicle to begin an Uber trip; and

WHEREAS, the fee described in the above email has been verified to have taken effect and is now being charged in these instances, regardless of whether the rider is making a good faith effort to locate the driver: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of July, 2017, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon Uber to suspend the implementation of any wait time fees until an accessible means of locating a driver can be implemented.